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tBH – Book of Salms

tBH - Book of Salms

CD-R & CC download, No Echo Records, 2008

It’s not often that the cover artwork of an album matches the music quite as well as in the case of tBH’s “Book of Salms”. The desolate loneliness in the grainy, sepia-toned empty landscapes mirrors exactly the musical entropy enclosed within these five deep, meandering journeys through musical melancholia.
In that respect, tBH is a perfect success: droning, depressing cuts of heavily manipulated samples and synthetic ambience, with unexpected stabs of more traditional instrumentation and percussion breaking past this deceptive facade of passivity to shock the listener into paying attention. However, from any other viewpoint, “Book of Salms” is by no means a great work; in many ways it’s too introspective and thoughtful to allow a listener access, as well as coming across as overworked. There is little spontaneity (odd, when considering that this is, for all intents and purposes, a collection of after-hours jam sessions), and far too much mechanical structure for a drone-based record. The sampled sounds, while interesting, are over-treated and in places, soulless. This, compounded with the lack of discernible direction evidenced by tracks like the nearly-ten-minutes-long “Preu” (ditto for the imaginatively-titled “Untitled”), makes for a less than inspirational selection that does nothing for tBH’s long-term appeal.
The overall result is, from a musical perspective, watered down and aurally unexciting. Emotionally speaking, though, this is seriously heavy listening and should not be approached lightly. It’s definitely not a beginner’s guide to minimalistic ambient.


— David vander Merwe

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